What is XBRL?

XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language, a language used in computers to present financial statements such that they can be retrieved from online records and transferred directly to users such as auditors, regulators, financial analysts for various purposes. More information on XBRL can be found at http://www.xbrl.org.

The Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) implemented a new filing requirement for Singapore incorporated companies to file their financial statements (FS) in full XBRL format with effect from 3 March 2014.

 

Why the need for XBRL?

ACRA believes that the use of XBRL will achieve the objectives of facilitating the conduct of business in Singapore, providing more value-added financial information and enhancing the regulatory environment with improved transparency and timely dissemination of relevant financial information.

 

Who is responsible for the correct representation and accuracy of information?

Directors of the companies will continue to be responsible for the correctness and accuracy of FS in XBRL format filed with ACRA. They are therefore advised to check the information to be filed before authorising their company or authorised persons to submit the information on behalf of the company to ACRA.

 

Who needs to file and who is exempted

Under the revised XBRL filing requirements taking effect from 3 March 2014, Singapore incorporated companies which are either unlimited or limited by shares required to file their financial statements with ACRA will be required to file a full set of financial statements in XBRL format, according to a minimum requirement list within the new ACRA Taxonomy 2013.Filing of Option B (Partial XBRL), a filing option under the current XBRL filing system, will no longer be available.

The following types of companies are exempted from filing their full set of financial statements in XBRL format, and will file their financial statements in PDF with Financial Statements Highlights in XBRL format instead:

  • Companies which are (1) Commercial Banks; (2) Merchant Banks; (3) Registered Insurers; and (4) Finance Companies, that are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore; and
  • Companies allowed by law to prepare accounts in accordance with accounting standards other than SFRS, SFRS for Small Entities and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards).

Insolvent EPCs will have the following options to file their financial statements with ACRA:

  • A full set of financial statements in XBRL format; or
  • A full set of financial statements in PDF with Financial Statements Highlights in XBRL format.

Companies limited by guarantee will continue to file only their financial statements in PDF format to ACRA.

Foreign companies and their local branches will also continue to file only their financial statements in PDF format to ACRA.

 

How would I know if my company needs to file in XBRL?

Your company will file its FS in XBRL format only it meets the following two criteria:

  1. the company’s FS ends on or after 30 April 2007; AND
  2. the company is filing its Annual Returns on or after 1 November 2007

 

How can I file?

You can either:

  1. do-it-yourself - log on to the Bizfile website, go through all the procedures and prepare the XBRL report yourself; or
  2. free yourself of the hassle by engaging a professional firm like AccountServe to assist you in the preparation

 To facilitate DIY XBRL filing, ACRA has provided a free online tool known as "BizFinx Preparation Tool" to enable companies to prepare and manage their FS in XBRL.

 

What are the advantages of outsourcing?

As directors are responsible for the correct representation and accuracy of the information filed, it is often something that they or the business owner works on personally. However, the filing process can be time-consuming and daunting, taking up valuable time that could have been spent on core business functions.

Outsourcing the filing to a professional accounting services firm gives directors and business owners peace of mind, knowing that their company’s compliance needs are in good hands.

Outsourcing helps eliminate the hassle of figuring out how to use the online filing system, selecting the required information for disclosure, entering the information manually, and reviewing the financial statements.

If you require assistance with filing your financial statements, please feel free to contact us at 6222 6868.

Resources

XBRL filing at a glance (.pdf)